Want to unleash your superhero?
Your "Man of Steel" stiff leg deadlift guide shows the way.
Photo courtesy of aka_Kath
Around the turn of the century, the stiff legged deadlift - or straight leg deadlift - was one of the primary advocated leg exercises. Indeed, its potential for contributing to one's overall strength and muscle building, is only a notch down from the recognized king of exercises, the squat.
Yet despite the stiff leg deadlift's undoubted superpowers, the deadlift exercise is sadly not practiced too often any more.
Why is this?
At least 3 key factors work against the stiff legged deadlift:
1. Following a set of heavy barbell squats, heavy straight leg deadlifts are the LAST exercise the typical trainee wants to do.
2. Because of the large muscle groups involved and the HEAVY weights employed, the deadlift exercise is HARD work on the body.
3. Many trainees FEAR the exercise, and prefer not to work the lower back area with such a grueling exercise.
But there is good news. A positive mindset will handle your first two concerns.
And what of the third?
Many trainees have found that heavy, CORRECTLY performed stiff-legged deadlifts are the BEST remedy for avoiding back problems.
The benefits to you?
You get to build a superhero physique with this fantastic leg exercise.
1. Form first.
Proper deadlift technique should be employed at all times when practicing this exercise.
A strength training tip: try to avoid turning your stiff legged deadlift into so-called "hospital reps", done with stiff legs, a rounded back, and the head down.
Instead, just as with the squat, practice keeping your head up which will help you keep your back flat - a key element when looking to build your back safely rather than breaking it.
2. Knee bend.
It is sometimes prudent to put a slight bend in your legs when practicing the straight leg deadlift.
This slight bend will take the pressure OFF your knees. Experiment to find what works best for you. However, once in position, be sure to keep your legs "locked" into this lifting position.
3. Lift heavy.
If this is your first experience of the straight leg deadlift, begin with MODERATE weights (say half bodyweight), and add poundage slowly. Once you find your deadlift "groove", and you are lifting confidently, progress to lifting with HEAVY weights.
Want an image of what the deadlift can do for you in terms of building muscle and power?
Think of real-life superhero John Grimek, who used to routinely perform repetitions with 400 to 500 pounds. Inspiring superhero stuff!
4. Train to fail.
Despite being such a magnificent exercise, the stiff leg deadlift is an exercise you should NEVER work to absolute failure.
Training to failure pushes the back structure too far and could likely cause you injury. To be safe, always stop one repetition or so short of failure, and be sure to cycle your training.
This "safety first" approach will not only protect you, but will ensure you return to your next workout rested and energized.
5. How many reps to deadlift?
To get the most from the straight leg deadlift, perform the exercise with medium or higher reps.
A good rep range for strength training purposes, would be one work set of 6-10 repetitions trained ever 5-7 days (or in some cases longer). Your progress will tell you if you need to insert an extra rest day or two, so be sure to listen to your body.
Just like the squat, consistency is king when training this "beast" exercise, so be certain to supplement your training in the gym with adequate nutrition and recuperation.
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